Kwekwe Poly students to lessen vehicle import costs for people living with disabilities

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief

KWEKWE Polytechnic students have developed a paraplegic hand control device that can be fitted into a car to  enable people living with disabilities to drive.

Kwekwe Polytechnic College

Importing a vehicle modified with adaptive equipment makes the car more expensive and out of reach for many but the innovation by local students will make driving affordable for those living with disabilities.

Car adaptations for people living with disabilities include hand controls that are designed to correspond to the natural hand-arm movement of the driver to make driving easy for them.

Kwekwe polytechnic students’ new paraplegic device made with the assistance of their lecturers was exhibited at the just-ended Midlands Show held at the Gweru Showgrounds.

The idea to make such a device was born    after one of the students was involved in an accident.

Mr Bothwell Kufa, a lecturer and innovations supervisor at the polytechnic said the student who used to drive was paralysed from the waist going down, jolting Technology in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering students into action.

“When one of our students was involved in a road traffic accident, he became paralysed from the lower body. So he was no longer mobile.

So as a class, the students tried to find a home grown solution to his new challenge of driving. So they then came up with a device that can actually operate all the two pedals of an automatic vehicle that is the accelerator and the brake,” said Mr Kufa.

“So the device is operated using a lever that controls the cables to the brake and accelerator. This means one can operate the accelerator and the brake on a lever.”

He said the device was tested on a motor vehicle and was successful.

“Right now we are appealing to all those who are able to help us patent the device and at the same time so that those who are living with disabilities are mobile.

This device can be fitted into an automatic vehicle and many people can’t import vehicles that are already fitted with such a device because they are very expensive.

But we are saying here is our own home grown solution to assist our fellow people become mobile on their own,” said Mr Kufa.

He said the idea to make the device was mooted early this year and by July, they had successfully managed make it and have it installed in two vehicles.

“It was developed early this year and right now it has gone through a trial phase. It was installed in two cars and it was successful and at the moment we are waiting to roll it out to those who need it,” said Mr Kufa.

Theresa Mberikwazvo

Kwekwe Polytecnic public relations officer Mrs Theresa Mberikwazvo said the students were able to make the device as the institution is focusing on Education 5.0.

The main objective of education 5.0 is to change the development trajectory of the nation from selling unfinished products or raw resources to selling finished products that support the creation of sustainable industries, encourage entrepreneurship, and shift the economy from one of mass consumption to mass production.

“We have innovations such as the paraplegic hand control.

Paraplegia refers to complete or partial paralysis in both legs and, in some people, parts of the lower abdomen and with this device, such people will be able to drive a car once we fit the device in the car,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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